The many conveniences of logistics software make it possible for fleet owners to eliminate driver stress without creating an unnecessary strain on available resources. Commercial carriers often have little room to take on new costs - even in regard to employment. As a result, managers may feel inclined to take operational shortcuts, such as hiring part-time or contract workers, or having a limited number of full-time staff handle an especially large volume of shipments.
While these measures will reduce overhead costs in the short term, they are likely to backfire later on. For instance, excessive shift hours may cause drivers to become fatigued and exhausted, which, over time, could have a negative impact on employee retention. This issue has already manifested itself for many businesses. According to Grand Rapids Business Journal, the trucking industry as a whole is currently short 30,000 drivers needed to meet demand levels. Industry experts anticipate that by 2020, that shortage could increase by 330,000 more jobs.
What's causing this industry-wide employment problem?
Low wages, cumbersome federal regulations and an aging workforce are all major factors influencing the growing demand for employees in the commercial carrier industry.
"You've got people in it today that are getting out of the industry that have been in it for 25 years or so, and the numbers just aren't filling it back up," Dale Arnold, recruiting and retention manager for NTBTRK, a regional trucking company, told the publication.
A recent article from CNN Money reported that many port truck drivers in the U.S. earn salaries that are equivalent to fast-food industry wages. The website cited information from a National Employment Law Project (NELP) study that found employees who ship goods between ports and warehouses around the country make an average of $28,700 per year. In many cases, these drivers are also putting in nearly 60 hours of work each week.
The NELP report suggested salaries are so low because more than half of all U.S. port drivers are employed as independent contractors, not full-time staff. This means they may not have access to certain benefits. According to Truckinginfo, transportation organizations are planning to use this information from NELP to support the passage of new federal legislation, including the Payroll Fraud Prevention Act, the Clean Ports Act and the Fair Playing Field Act, all of which would have a direct impact on how fleet owners manage their internal resources and staff.
Use technology to plan ahead and improve the driver experience
The growing interest for federal legislation supporting truck driver well-being will likely make it necessary for the owners of commercial carrier businesses to impose major adjustments to their operations. Regardless of what happens from a regulatory standpoint, technology such as logistics software will help these enterprises strike a better balance between the need for cost savings and the desire to attract more employees to the industry. These tools are designed to help managers make smarter decisions about daily shipping assignments. Instead of sending individuals out on long delivery assignments, businesses can make better use of the time by finding ways to complete multiple shipments in one trip. A recent op-ed in The Morning Call, a newspaper based in Pennsylvania, argued that the there is currently a lack of sufficient roadside rest areas for long-distance truck drivers in the state.
Commercial carriers can avoid these and other problems by using automated technology to plan routes ahead of time so that drivers can be more comfortable making shipments. Fleet managers will also be able to reduce overhead spending in a way that leads to valuable savings.